Three SUNY Empire Students Awarded Richard Porter Leach Fellowships

By Kelly Williams, secretary, Office of Collegewide Student Services and student, School for Graduate Studies

February 7, 2012

It is with great pride that SUNY Empire State College presents this year’s recipients of the Richard Porter Leach Fellowship for the Arts to Michael Freeman, Suzanne Goldman and Carmen Nicole Smith. While all three began their professional careers as dancers, they are pursuing very different goals as they work towards their baccalaureate degrees.

The selection committee for the Richard Porter Leach Fellowship reviewed the fall 2011 candidates for this award. This year’s applications were at an all-time high and the talent of the candidates was particularly exciting. The fellowship enables active and established performing artists to pursue a college degree, at the undergraduate or graduate level, while continuing to practice their craft.

Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman, Leach FellowshipMichael Freeman is an independent director, choreographer and writer who has been performing for 20 years. Freeman’s career began with the Martha Graham Company. When not performing, he heads professional-development workshops for teachers and instructs children in the theater arts. A second year student at the Metropolitan Center, Freeman attributes his experience with his studies at SUNY Empire State College to nurturing his “potential in dramatic writing.” He is studying creative writing and human development  topics.

 Suzanne Goldman

Suzanne Goldman, Leach FellowshipSuzanne Goldman is an accomplished dancer and choreographer who has worked with the American Ballet Theater and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet of San Francisco. Currently, Goldman is, she says, “spearheading a dance project with three  other female dancers” that helps them overcome the frustrations of career and motherhood. In her studies and performance career, she asks, “What role does society play in defining our role as a mother and as an individual?” Goldman seeks to answer this and other questions through SUNY Empire State College with her work in women’s studies, law and anthropology at the Metropolitan Center.

 Carmen Nicole Smith

Carmen Nicole Smith, Leach FellowshipCarmen Nicole Smith is a choreographer and has been a teaching artist for four years with the Battery Dance Company. Smith’s current professional focus is, she says, on the “planning and execution of [Battery Dance Company’s] cultural ambassador program with partners around the world.” At SUNY Empire State College’s Metropolitan Center, she combines studies of dance and neuropsychology, with the hope of teaching dance to all ages and, in the future, to pursue a master’s program in her art. Though the two areas of study may seem unrelated, Smith states, “Neuropsychology helps me use dance, creativity and movement across cultures to understand behavior, communication and human development."

Students considered for a Richard Porter Leach Fellowship must be a matriculated undergraduate student at SUNY Empire State College. The fellowship covers all tuition and fees and up to $200 a term for books and materials. This award may be renewed as long as the student remains active in his or her craft and in good academic standing.

If you have additional questions or would like to request an application, please contact Kelly Williams at 518-587-2100, ext. 2201 or at

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